Celebrating Gardens

Living through this period of social-distancing and self isolation, it does make us appreciate more and more the need we have to connect not only with other people but also with the natural world.

I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be to be living in a city, cooped up in a flat in a high rise block. No wonder more people have taken to growing things from seed. Even seeing things grow in a window box or on a window sill indoors can help. I can remember as a child seeing the idea of a miniature garden planted on a large plate or saucer, where cress seeds and carrot tops grew around a small mirror placed as a pond.

Having a garden has been a life-saver for many this year. Having the perfect weather to be outdoors has also been a huge bonus. When working in a garden, even weeding can be a peaceful, almost meditative occupation. In a garden the plants and shrubs continue to blossom and grow in spite of all that is going on in the world of politics and economics.

It is certainly the case that more folk are realising the benefits of growing vegetables and salad crops; exchanging seedlings,seeds and young plants of all kinds has become a popular part of life now.

Tending a garden, clearing overgrown areas and making space for more flowers or vegetables, watching rhubarb plants grow like triffids – all these things help to raise spirits and let us appreciate a positive aspect of having more time on our hands. One day we’ll be able to share these activities with family and friends other than on facebook and in emails etc.


Apart from gardening, another essential part of each day has been to go for a walk – our permitted exercise beyond the garden. This poem seems appropriate here –

Put on Your Boots

Put on your boots; leave your desk.

Let’s go for a walk.

We’ll listen to music in the sky

from swallows circling Drumrae,

from the blackbird high in the ash.


Put on your boots; leave the ’phone.

Let’s go for a walk.

We’ll smell the honey scent of bluebells,

the may and gorse in the hedge.

Even taste the sorrel’s sharp leaves.


Put on your boots; leave the post.

Let’s go for a walk.

We’ll walk the lanes while they’re quiet,

count new calves in Callum’s field,

watch parent rooks mobbing buzzards.


Put on your boots; leave your books.

Let’s go for a walk.

We’ll name many flowers on the banks

stitchwort, sweet cicely, red campion,

while wind paints fields like Van Gogh.


Put on your boots.




The Hedge

Early morning, I pause,

listen, absorb the scene.

All is peaceful as

Emanuel Ax plays Brahms.

Beyond the garden,  fields

edged with hawthorn, are now

studded with ruby for autumn.

Not long ago, the hedge

was cloaked with bridal white.

Time has passed all too fast.

I long for time to stand still as

Emanuel Ax plays Brahms.


In these times of economic and political upheaval, we need to stop if we can and take time to just be; time to soak up the healing benefits of the natural world where changes are continually happening, but they are reliable – apart from occasional unexpected freakish events. The changing seasons are undeniably not as predictable as they were once. We may experience unseasonal hot weather and periods of drought or flooding, but there are still some constants.

We know that soon the swallows will be leaving us and we know that the geese will soon be arriving from Svalbard. Those migrants face an arduous journey but at least when they reach their destination they will be welcomed.

The music of man and the music of the natural world – gifts in a turbulent world.